- - Saturday, November 26, 2011

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia Tech and Virginia each found its way into the red zone twice in the first half.

One team scored twice, the other had nothing to show for it. That, in brief, was the story of Saturday’s Commonwealth Cup crushing, a 38-0 result for Virginia Tech.

Virginia entered the game flying high after knocking off three big-time opponents this year, but those games were played to perfection, and this one was far from it.

“Against Miami and Florida State, when the offense got the ball in the red zone, we scored points,” receiver Kris Burd said.

First up was a fourth-down play from the Hokies’ 6-yard line. Needing a yard and a half, coach Mike London didn’t hesitate to go for it, calling for Kevin Parks on a power run, as he’s done all year.

“It was the opportunity to send a message to our guys up front that if you’re going to win championships, if you’re going to win games, you’ve got to be able to knock people off the ball and gain a yard,” London said.

Instead, Parks was stopped. Later in the half, with the ball on Tech’s 20, quarterback Michael Rocco was forced to scramble backwards and coughed up the football, sending Virginia to the locker room with no points.

“We knew going into halftime we weren’t playing our best football,” linebacker Steve Greer said. “That was the message, we’ve got to play our brand of football.”

The second half opened, though, with more of the same. Rocco was sacked on a third down, and a 38-yard field goal went wide right.

The offensive problems were exaggerated by the lack of a running game. Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson combined for 35 yards, and didn’t run for more than five on any one play.

It was the second straight week that the potent attack has been shut down.

“We had a lot of mistakes. You could see that from the sideline, and everybody had a part in it,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter what the defenses do, it’s up to us to move them off the ball and get positive yardage, and we haven’t been able to do that these last couple weeks.”

If there was a positive to the lack of rushing success, it opened the door for a handful of long passes, something that has been in short supply this year.

Those big gains turned into stalled drives, and the Wahoos finished just 3-for-11 on third downs.

It was a flat showing, particularly given the team’s success against Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech this year.

With a bowl game still ahead, Virginia coach Mike London will use every bit of practice time he can, and will bring the players back for a workout Sunday.

He said he didn’t want the loss to the Hokies to define the season.

“In no way are we disappointed in the season,” he said. “The good thing is you get a chance to end the season on a positive note.”

Read Michael Phillips’ U.Va. blog at TimesDispatch.com

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